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Incredible Medical Science

20 March 2012, 11:55

Each sunrise and sunset,medical knowledge advances at the most remarkable rate.

Roughly 60 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS worldwide and of that number 5.5million alone live in South Africa even though we only have 0.7% of the world's population.Since HIV/AIDS broke onto the world scene,more than 20million people have died of that disease.

Tuberculosis roughly takes 1.7million lives annually globally and with it more than 485 000 people in South Africa have it.HIV/AIDS and TB in South Africa has an infection rate of 70% with 105 000 deaths annually for TB affected people and 345 650 deaths annually for HIV/Aids patients.

How can incredible medical science help in the fight against such killer diseases as HIV/AIDS and TB? A young lad once said to me:"My love of medical science is just one of my reasons for choosing medicine as a career".

Here's why:

1.X-ray imaging...  
CT scanners or computer tomography had been in use for the best part of 30 years. How does it work?CT scanners produce a three-dimensional X-ray image of the inside of our bodies. The images shown by the scanner becomes helpful for medical personnel in  diagnosing diseases and examining internal abnormalities in our body.

Controversy surrounds CT scan's as there is the danger of radiation exposures associated with these tests. However,Michael Vannier,a radiology professor at the University of Chicago Hospital. says:"In just the past few years, the progress made by CT is enough to make your head spin".

CT scanners have become much faster,much more accurate and more cost effective. Speed is the most important advantage as doctors can now scan your heart in less than a third of a second to get a result. The heart beats constantly,which in the past gave out X- ray images as too blurry to make accurate evaluations. But the newest technology means it takes less time to rotate the body which in turn creates sharper X-ray pictures. With this advancement,doctors can now not only capture anatomical details of the inner body but also examine the biochemical activity of any of the specific areas.
2.Robotic surgery...  
It's the computer-assisted surgery that allows doctors to operate on patients without them even being in the same room as you. Using remote control devices,doctors can operate by using several robotic arms to manipulate procedures. These arms are fully equipped with scalpels, scissors, cameras, cauteries,etc.

It offers surgeons the technology to perform extremely complicated operations with incredible precision. It also helps in reducing blood loss and pain,lower risk of post surgical complications,shorter time spent in hospitals and a quicker recovery time than those that have say open surgery. 
Nanomedicine is defined as the application of nanotechnology to the medical field. Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating and creating microscopic objects.The measuring unit that is used in this technology is called the nanometer, which is one billionth of a meter. In layman's term,an A4 page is 100,000 nanometers thick,whereas a single human hair is 80,000 nanometers thick by comparison.

Our red blood cells are roughly 2,500 nanometers in diameter. Bacterium is 1000 nanometers in length and a single virus is 100 nanometers long. With all that our DNA is about 2.5 nanometers in diameter. With nanomedicine scientist are able to build tiny devices that enable them to perform procedures of this magnitude inside our bodies. It's the nanomachines that actually does the work for them, which are microscopic computer programmes with very specific instructions attached to it. 
Nanomedicine is the monitoring,repairing,construction and control of the human biological system at molecular level using engineered nanodevices and structures. It is hoped that nanodevices will someday be able to travel through tiny capillaries and deliver oxygen to anaemic tissues. Blood vessels obstructions and plaque from brain cells will be removed using nanodevice technologies, and it will even hunt down and destroy viruses and bacteria.

Nanomachines will be used to deliver drugs directly to specifically targeted cells,i.e. cancer cells and alter the pharmacokinetics and biodistribution of the drugs.
Scientist predict nanomedicine to be able to repair and rearrange the molecular structure of all living cells and eliminate all commonly known diseases of the 21st century.  
Genomics is the discipline in genetics concerned with the study of the genomes of organisms. Scientists hope that they will soon be able to identify predisposition of specific genes that leads to particular diseases in us.
Medical research and intricacies surrounding scientific advancement are indeed incredible work done on our behalf and truly a gift to mankind.
1.Newsweek magazine. 
2.New Scientist magazine. › Science › Engineering › Robotics. 
6.Foresight Institute,Nanomedicine by Robert A.Freitas Jr.

9.Awake magazine 2007

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